Moist von Lipwig is bored with his job as the Postmaster General of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office, which is running smoothly without any problems, so the Patrician tries to convince him to take over the Royal Bank and Royal Mint. Moist, content with his new lifestyle, refuses. However, when the current chairwoman, Topsy Lavish, dies, she leaves 50% of the shares in the bank to her dog, Mr Fusspot (who already owns 1% of the bank, giving him a majority and making him chairman) - and she leaves the dog to Moist. She also makes sure that the city's Assassins' Guild will fulfill a contract on Moist if anything happens to the dog or if he does not do as her last will commands.
Faced with no alternative, Moist tries to take over the bank and in doing so finds out that people do not trust banks much, that the production of money runs slowly and at a loss, and that people now use stamps (which Moist introduced in Going Postal) as currency rather than coins. His ambitious changes include making money that is not backed by gold but by the city itself. Unfortunately, neither the chief cashier (Mr Bent, rumoured to be a vampire but actually something much worse) nor the Lavish family are too happy with him and try to dispose of him. Cosmo Lavish tries to go one step further - he is, with the help of his servant, Heretofore, (who steals Vetinari's personal effects for a large fee), attempting to replace Vetinari by taking on his identity - with little success. However all the while, the reappearance of a character from von Lipwig's past adds more pressure to his unfortunate scenario.
In the meantime, Moist's fiancée, Adora Belle Dearheart, is working with the Golem Trust to uncover golems from the ancient civilization of Um. She manages to bring them to Ankh-Morpork, and to everyone's surprise the "four golden golems" turn out to be "four thousand golems" (due to a translation error) and so the city is at risk of being at war with other cities who might find an army of 4,000 golems threatening. Moist discovers the magic words that control the golems and orders them to bury themselves outside the city, except for a few to power Clacks Towers and golem horses for the mail coaches. This is a reference to the Terracotta Army unearthed near Xi'an, China.
Moist realises that these extremely valuable golems are a much better foundation for the new currency than gold and thus introduces the golem-based currency. Eventually, an anonymous clacks message goes out to the leaders of other cities, containing the command that the golems respond to, thus making them unsuitable for using in warfare.
At the end of the novel, Lord Vetinari considers the advancing age of the current Chief Tax Collector, and suggests that on his retirement a new name to take on the vacancy might present itself.
Ideas and themesEdit
According to Pratchett, Making Money is both fantasy and non-fantasy, as money is a fantasy within the "real world", as "we've agreed that these numbers of conceptual things like dollars have a value." Pratchett argues that an apple is more valuable that gold because you can eat the apple to survive, plant its seeds and grow more apples, whereas gold does nothing.
At the bank, research is being carried out with an analogue computer strongly remincient of the MONIAC Computer. This machine is strangely entangled with the discworld reality.
Pratchett plays with issues of crime and what constitutes real crime throughout the novel. The novel explores white-collar crime in the bankers' profiting off and stealing from their shareholders who might just be people who have invested their life savings and lost everything, as in the case of the Roundworld banking collapses and various financial district scams. These people do no jail time and are "pillars of the community". On the other hand, Moist and Heretofore steal from people who are hoping to profit off others - in fact they scam the scammers, yet their non-violent crimes are capital offenses. Moist is forever stealing Drumknott's pencils, which confirms in Vetinari's mind that Moist's criminal mind is still in evidence and that he is not completely reformed.
In the novel, the citizens of Ankh-Morpork are protesting against the employment of the Golems. Throughout Pratchett's novels, the Golems and the fact that they work for free 24/7 (almost) has its Roundworld equivalent in western multinational companies outsourcing their work, jobs and factories to the lowest paying third world countries and in immigrants coming to western countries and "taking the jobs of the citizens there."
This novel was written just prior to the major financial crisis of 2008, but there were enough warnings that the banks were in a mess, that Pratchett could not be considered prescient, merely very astute in his characterization of the corruption, the shady characters and the arrogant belief that the bankers knew everything and that the average person 'did not understand' the situation. Unfortunately, in Roundworld there was no Vetinari to bring the bankers to heel, instead they got off unscathed, not one went to jail and, in fact, they were rewarded for their incompetence and unmitigated self serving gall by being bailed out by major governments around the world, most significantly the British and American governments and the respective taxpayers of those countries. The Canadian banking system, with its tighter regulatory controls, was one of the few that remained relatively unaffected and did not require a bailout.
In this book the century on the Discworld has changed, and is now the Century of the Anchovy. This had been noted in the epilogue of the previous Moist von Lipwig novel, Going Postal.
The Koom Valley Business referred to at the beginning is a reminder of the events of the previous novel Thud! where war between the Dwarfs and Trolls was prevented by the actions of Sam Vimes.
Adora Belle Dearheart and the Golem Trust return.
Like Going Postal, the previous Moist von Lipwig book, Making Money is separated into actual chapters, unique in the Pratchett Discworld series. At the beginning of each chapter is a short summary of what the chapter is about. This is a similar approach to that of Victorian morality tales, giving the reader a taste of what is to come in the chapter. Unlike Going Postal, Making Money actually has a chapter eight, the number that is not spoken in Discworld. Whether this is because Pratchett got sloppy or because the impact of superstitions of the number eight has diminished in the new century of the Anchovy is never explained.
Dave's Pin Emporium has now become Dave's Stamp and Pin Emporium or Exchange. Clearly stamps have become a much more profitable venture than pins.
Popular References Edit
The references in the Chapter one heading include: Golem with a blue dress, a likely reference to the 1964 song Devil with a Blue Dress On by Shorty Long and William "Mickey" Stevenson, first performed by Long and released as a single in 1964. It went nowhere until it was redone in 1966 by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. A "blue dress" is also a metaphor for an illusion, appropriate for a golem who is being a woman when golems evidently have no gender. Another heading, Crime and Punishment is the title of a novel by Dostoevsky which involved theft and guilt about the theft. No kindness to bears may be a play on the popular children's stuffed toy "Care Bears" or as is more likely a reference to bear markets in the stock exchange. Given the subject of money, The hanging man could be a reference to the bearish reversal pattern, found in an uptrend of price charts of financial assets.
The name of the protagonist, Moist von Lipwig, is very appropriate for a con man, which Moist was when he was known as Albert Spangler in "a previous life". 'Lip Wig' is slang for a 'moustache' a common addition to a disguise. 'Moist' suggests 'slippery', also a common con man trait. When Moist is climbing up the side of the Post Office he is startled by pigeons flapping; a classic suspense trick used in many movies and in fact a standard in many James Bond movies; License to Kill, For Your Eyes Only and The LIving Daylights to name a few. Similarly, when Moist swings through the window into his office building, he is following in the long standing TV and movie tradition of villains and heroes escaping by launching themselves through a plate of glass to freedom; everyone from James Bond to Chuck.
Throughout the novel there are parallels with the board game of Monopoly. Moist emphasizes that the paper money he is making is worth only what we value it at (using the wealth of the city as a benchmark) much like Monopoly money which has a value only in the game. The original Monopoly pieces were taken from a girls' charm bracelet and over the years pieces have included a pair of boots (Cosmo Lavish stole a pair from Vetenari's butler). There is a little dog in the novel, Mr. Fusspot. Moist revitalizes his top hat. Moist's female golem, Gladys, does the ironing. Mr. Jenkins considers a battleship as a motif for the bills he's designing. Adora Belle gives Moist a golem horse, which he rides (the horse and rider figure). Other golem horses are discovered in the underground 'tomb'. Dibbler asks Moist for a loan to buy a wheelbarrow. Taken singly one might think that this is simply a coincidence but the disparate choice of items and Pratchett's style in other instances of this type suggest that it was entirely intentional. At the end of the novel, Moist is being considered for the position of tax collector and in his next novel, he acquires a railway.
The line, "we encouraged mongooses to breed in the posting boxes to keep down the snakes... to reduce the number of toads" is a reference to the countless Roundworld blunders where animals were introduced to control a pest and became another pest instead; mongooses in Hawaii to control rats, cane toads in Australia, snakehead fish, etc.
'If it's about the cabbage-flavoured stamp glue-' Moist began.' This is a running gag that has made its way through several books beginning with Going Postal; the most recent reference being to Vimes' statement in Thud!: '"Remember the cabbage-scented stamp last month?...They actually caught fire if you put too many of them together!"'. Cabbages are the main crop of Sto Plain and Moist and his post office commemorated this with a range of stamps, one of which was made entirely of cabbage and tended to explode.
The stamp called the lovers which requires a large magnifying glass to see the alleged impropriety pokes fun at the zealots of the Roundworld who look for sexual references in everything, often going to ridiculous extremes like playing records backwards to prove their point that the object of their assault is "smut".
When offered the option of the position at the bank or staying at the post office, Moist expects to find a huge pit behind the door in Vetinari's office like in Going Postal. Instead there is only a door with a room behind it. This is like the Lady and the Tiger analogy, where you have to guess what is going to be behind the mystery door and get the lady or be eaten by the tiger.
Lord Vetinari says that "You have to consider the psychology of the individual" which is a reference to PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster series of books; an expression that Jeeves uses regularly.
The Tanty Bugle with its 'orrible crime' is a take off on such 'true crime' magazines and periodicals as The Police Gazette and The Newgate Calendar, the latter subtitled The Malefactors' Bloody Register, which was a popular work of improving literature in the 18th and 19th centuries. Originally a monthly bulletin of executions, produced by the Keeper of Newgate Prison in London, the Calendar's title was appropriated by other publishers, who put out biographical chapbooks about notorious criminals such as Sawney Bean, Dick Turpin, John Wilkes and Moll Cutpurse. As Pratchett points out, these tabloids provide a vicarious thrill for those normal law abiding citizens who lead dull boring little lives.
Moist's thoughts, "Why do they always build banks to look like temples" is a reference to the fact that banks and churches, in phallic splendor, have both through the ages always aimed to be the highest building around, accentuating their importance, power and wealth while those who support and fund them often live in poverty
The Elim, the smallest coin of all, traditionally made by widows "and of course it's handy to drop in the charity box". In the Bible, Jesus's parable of the widow's mite, in which the smallest coin of all, donated by a poor widow, has more value than all the gold ostentatiously placed in there by the Pharisees, simply because it is all she has to give.
The line, "Food gets you through times of no gold better than gold gets you through times of no food is a reworking of Shelton and Mavrides' hippy maxim, used in their comic books about the alternative lifestyle trio The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, which originally states:-
"Dope gets you through times of no money better than money gets you through times of no dope." And of course one of the greatest strains of marijuana of all times according to HIgh Times magazine was Acapulco Gold.
Topsy Lavish naturally has a maiden name of Turvy - Topsy Turvy meaning upside down or in total confusion, much like the bank she manages.
The Lavishes are very reminiscent of the Borgias or the Medicis with the same extended family, devious infighting, desire for political power and political connections everywhere and Pratchett is likely using both families as a model. The most famous Borgia dynasty includes Cesare and Lucrezia "Lucci" Borgia who are mirrored in Making Money by Cosmo Lavish and Pucci Lavish. Cosimo de Medici was the first of the Medici to become ruler (Patrician?) of Florence. Both families were well know for using poison for disposing of their enemies, much like Cosmo Lavish plans. In addition, Pucci is the name of another influential family from Florence who were political allies of the Medici family, particularly Cosimo.
Moist asks Shady if they have a problem with clipping and sweating. These are two methods of getting metal off coins made of precious metals like gold and silver. Clipping means to take small undetectable pieces of metal off the edges of a coin and sweating is done by putting a number of coins in a bag and shaking them until they produce dust which is collected. Both the dust and the clippings are melted into a lump of gold or silver. The other methods mentioned by Shady, painting, plating, plugging and re-casting involve respectively, painting a non-precious metal to look like gold or silver, covering a non-precious metal with a thin plate of precious metal, cutting a hole in the centre of the coin and then filling it in (plugging) with a non-precious metal and pounding it to fill in the hole (hence the expression 'not worth a plugged nickel') and recasting the coin with an additive such as copper so that it looks the same but has less gold or silver in it. In fact, modern coins could be said to be 'recast' in that there is little or no precious metal in them and they are cast from a mix of non-precious metals or of non-precious and some precious metal mixed in.
Bent explains to Moist that he has "Nichtlachen-Keinwortz Syndrome" which deprives him of a sense of humour. Nichtlachen Keinwortz translated from German means roughly "Do not laugh at no words".
Mr. Shady explains that it costs more to make a coin, particularly one of small denomination, than it is worth and that they have to work more overtime to make enough money to pay their overtime, which in turn leads to more overtime, etc. This resonates with bureaucracies throughout the Roundworld, particularly in government where there have been examples of a new tax actually bringing in no revenue because of the cost of creating the infrastructure needed to collect and administer the tax.
According to Pratchett, the Glooper is directly taken from Roundworld's Phillips Economics Computer, a bizarre but effective water-powered machine devised in 1949, but which was so good at reproducing an economic cycle that the last of the Phillips machines were still going strong in economics schools in the early 1990s, - when orthodox computer power had finally caught up with hydrology, and could finally replicate what the machines had been doing for nearly fifty years. There was a series of early computers called MANIAC, but these used conventional vacuum-tube technology- MANIAC only one letter away from MONIAC (Money). In addition, a protoype nuclear reactor, one of the first to be built in the world, was called the GLEEP (Graphic Low Energy Experimental Pile) by its British inventors. Terry Pratchett worked for the British nuclear power agency, a sucessor to the company that built the GLEEP, and cannot have been unaware of this.
The Glooper has been invented by Hubert Turvy with the assistance of an Igor. Hubert is describe as a 'proper Hubert' which should be a good euphemism for a 'real geek' if it isn't already. Hubert has all the traits of a mad scientist' the maniacal laugh, the apparently crazy schemes that turn out to be not so crazy after all, the loyal assistant who is ready to desert him when the mob arrives, etc.
When Hubert demonstrates the Glooper for Moist's benefit, the machine shows exactly what happens in Reagonomics "trickle down" economics as jobs become scarce, people have less disposable income, etc.
Hubert mentions that "hemlines tend to rise in times of national crisis". This is the opposite of what supposedly happens in Roundworld and which is referred to as "Hemline Economics". Supposedly when people are more confident in the economy they are more daring and hence spend money on the latest fashions. When the economic climate is pessimistic they dress conservatively and hemlines lower. There are many arguments that this theory is at best an oversimplification and at worse, meaningless.
The name of the town of "Big Cabbage" is a take off on New York, the "Big Apple". Its cabbage themed events, giant Cabbage, etc are a take off on all those towns which try to create some tourist attraction to turn their boring town into a destination - particularly popular in small town Canada with Vegreville and its giant Ukrainian Easter Egg, Sudbury with its giant nickel, Duncan with the world's largest hockey stick, WaWa with the world's largest Canada goose, Colborne with the world's largest apple, etc etc.
The reference book of the important people of Ankh-Morpork "Whom's Whom" is a take off on the Roundworld reference "Who's Who". Pratchett gives it a grammatical spin - confusing "whom" and "who" is a very common error - so the reader is left wondering which is the grammatically correct title.
The Lavishes were old money which "meant that it had been made so long ago that the black deeds that had originally filled its coffers were now historically irrelevant. In the Roundworld there are numerous families who made their fortunes by rum running and bootlegging during prohibition such as the Kennedys and Bronfmanns and throughout history most important and well established families have their roots in some illegal trade or dubious business dealings or other.
When Topsy Lavish dies, Death says to her, ONE SHOULD ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF ONE'S POSTERITY"
She replies that the "Lavishes can kiss my bum" Pratchett is playing on 'posterity' (future) and 'posterior' (buttocks), here when Topsy confuses the words.
Topsy Lavish leaving her money and the chairmanship of the bank to her dog is surprisingly not far fetched. Emperor Caligula made his horse a senator of Rome. American millionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley left her Maltese dog, Trouble, $12M in her will.
Vetinari says to Moist, "The city bleeds.... and you are the clot I need." a play on clotting the blood to stop the bleeding but also 'clot' which is slang for 'a fool'.
Moist signs, here and here and here and here, etc when taking over the bank, much like anyone applying for a bank loan and being required to sign an endless array of forms.
Sacharissa Cripslock refers to Moist as 'a dog and his master' which has a number of Roundworld connections and references. Firstly, it is an Aesop fable in which the dog that was of great service to its master when young, is beaten when he is old because he can no longer do the same service. Secondly there is a connection to the old advertisement with the HMV dog Nipper and the line "His Master's Voice" which was a standard on all early HMV, then EMI, then RCA recordings (as the original company was sold on).
When Moist and his chef are discussing meals, the chef lists all the things he cooks, all of which are offal and by way of the pun never stated, 'awful'. Pratchett used this joke in The Truth as well.
When his chef explains that he is allergic to 'garlic', the word not the substance, Pratchett is drawing on Monty Python type material - the salesman who reacts in a silly way when customers ask for a mattress, is one such sketch.
The Roundworld "Jack Proust" is an aging comic and the central character The First 100 Years the award winning show written and performed by former clown Geoff Hoyle.
When Moist accidentally says 'garlic' his chef says "nom d'une bouilloire? pourquoi est-ce que je suis hardiment ri sous cape à part les dieux". A rough translation of this from the French would be "in the name of a kettle? why is it that I boldly chuckle except under the cape of the gods". The grammar for this translation is very poor however. French swear words differ from English ones in that the English language generally focuses on sexual or bodily references while the French focus on religious references. So this is likely Pratchett playing with the use of illogical French words to poke fun at French swearing. It is very similar to the kind of common words that Tintin uses to swear (since his audience includes children) in that graphic novel series.
Lady Deirdre Waggon's Prudent Advice for Young Women is patterned after the works of such authors as Emily Post and Isabella Beeton.
"Bolters in the Maul" is a reference to Pall Mall in London which was named such because it was a place where the game of pall mall was played. The Maul is a wide boulevard in Central Ankh-Morpork connecting Plaza of Broken Moons to the Turnwise Broadway by the Patrician's Palace. The street is home to some of Ankh-Morpork's largest shops, including Crumley's department store and a small, expensive one called Shatta as well as Bolters. Appropriately, Pratchett has played with the word given the nature of malls where people get mauled in the shopping frenzy. A Bolter is a person who deserts an organization or runs away.
"The leopard doesn't change its shorts" is a malapropism play on the old saying "the leopard doesn't change its spots" (people don't reform or change) as well as the idea of 'having to change one's shorts" after having an accident in them from being scared. This line is used throughout Pratchett's novels. In this one, at the end, the leopard does change its shorts.
The line on Von Lipwig's draft bank note, "Ad Urbem Pertinet" is Latin for "It Belongs to the City".
The following line on his bank note says, "promitto fore ut possessori postulanti nummum unum solvem an apte satisfaciam" which refers to the inscription on English banknotes, beneath the words Bank of England, which read "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of" followed by the denomination of the note. Originally this meant the note would be exchanged by the bank for the equivalent value in gold; however since Britain abandoned the gold standard the phrase is entirely decorative.
The line, "Bent stood up in one unfolding moment, like a jack-in-the-box." foreshadows his re-emergence as a clown at the climax of the book.
"Every rag-and-bone man and rubbish picker, every dunnikin diver, every gongfermor, every scrap-metal merchant...you worked for Harry King." All these references are to Roundworld trades past and present. Rag and bone men collected unwanted household items and sold them; rags for the linen to be turned into paper, bones to be used for jewelry or knife handles. Rubbish pickers collected salvageable stuff from the rubbish piles and sold it. Dunnies are septic tanks so a dunnikin diver cleaned out the septic tanks of the city. A gongfermor or gongfarmer was someone who collected 'night soil', human excrement to sell for fertilizer or for disposal outside the city.
The line, "If we build it, wilt thou comest?" is a play on the line "If you build it he will come" from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner which is often misquoted as "if you build it they will come".
The reference to the barber surgeons' knock shave and a haircut) and the play on Tonsorial and Tonsils are interesting in that Pratchett explains both these puns in detail, gilding the lily so to speak, rather than let the reader figure them out for themselves. Both are such obvious puns and jokes and Pratchett leaves other far more complex ones unexplained in his novels that it seems Pratchett is not at the top of his game on these or perhaps had readers writing mystified by his jokes and felt the need to explain some. Pratchett uses "Shave and a haircut, no legs" instead of the standard "Shave and a haircut, two bits (or 2 pence as in Soul Music). Likely he has created a variation because barbers were surgeons and amputation of limbs was a very real possibility both in Discworld and in Roundworld when barber surgeons got involved.
Moist initially makes the same mistake as William de Worde and oithers and assumes that just because Nobby Nobbs requires proof of species, he's the "Watch Werewolf". He misses the obvious clue when Angua squeaks Mr. Fusspots rubber bone, over and over absentmindedly, when he is being delivered to Moist. However, by the end of the novel, when he sees how Mr. Fusspot reacts to Angua, he knows the truth.
Mr. Bent says, "You could trust numbers, except perhaps for pi". Pi is the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter and is an irrational number, 3.14159.... Pratchett has had fun with 'pi' before in Making Money with the Post Office Sorting Engine. In that novel, Mr. Groat says about pi, 'Three and a bit, that's the ticket. Only Bloody Stupid Johnson said that was untidy, so he designed a wheel where the pie was exactly three." There's an old mathematical limerick about this issue.
- It's a favorite hobby of mine
- A new value for pi to assign.
- I would set it to three
- 'Cause it's simpler, you see,
- Than three point one four one five nine.
"Wallace can talk numbers with your monkey," says Harry King to Moist. This resonates with Douglas Adams, The Hitch hikers' Guide to the Galaxy where Garkbit at the Restaurant at the end of the Universe says to Zaphod Beeblebrox, "No, no, your monkey has got it right, sir" referring to the fact that Arthur Dent, like all humans has evolved from apes. It also suggests that Harry is casting aspersions on Mr. Bent that Moist's assistant is less evolved than Harry King and Moist. Bent's name being similar to Arthur Dent's is likely a co-incidence.
Moist comments that there is no god of banking. In Roundworld the nearest is the Roman God Saturn who was the god of wealth, among other things. The Patron Saint of Bankers is the Apostle, Saint Matthew.
The Cabinet of Curiosity in the Unseen University is likely a parallel to the Cabinets of Curiosities found in many museums which are modeled on the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, a natural history by Albertus Seba. The back cover of the book has a plate of a giant squid and the wizards ask whether Moist or Adora have seen one in the hallways, as if it has escaped from the Cabinet. Such strange and wonderful creatures are a common feature of such collections.
Pratchett uses the number 14.14 many times in the novel (too many times for it to be mere coincidence) In clock numerology this is an angel number with the meaning of a ball is ruled by love which is significant for Moist in that he was saved by an "angel", ie. Vetenari.
The bowel lacerating nut concoction is obviously granola.
Veterari says to Moist when told his head is going to be on the new dollar bill, "A good place for a head, considering all the places a head might be put." This is a reference to the various ways leaders have been executed - head on a platter for John the Baptist, heads in baskets under the guillotine in the French Revolution, heads on pike poles outside castle walls and city gates during the middle ages and by Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) in Romania, to name a few.
In the scene where Igor is removing Clamp's memory and replacing it with a turnip, Clamp says, that it "tastes like strawberries". Strawberries are used as a sexual reference for a prostitute (someone who sells her 'strawberry' in order to buy drugs but the reference is common throughout literature, movies and TV. Strawberries are key in regard to Captain Queeg in the 1954 movie, The Caine Mutiny. The line itself originates in a 1960 song by Miriam Makeba, "love tastes like strawberries" and has been covered by several other artists of the time from her husband Hugh Masekela' jazz trumpet version, to the soulful sound of Jerry Butler to Nana Mouskouri's folk. There was even a 60s country and western version. In film, the line was used in the 2002 movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, as well as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Bent walks with a jerky flamingo step, has large oversized feet and his feet rise and fall as if he is walking on some shifting staircase. These traits clearly hint at the fact that his dark secret is that he is a clown. Pratchett is likely drawing on John Cleese's Silly Walk sketch as well as the antics of circus clowns in this reference. Similarly, the diary entry that Moist discovers says that some funny men appeared at the bank asking for Mr. Bent and Harry King says to Moist that there is something funny about him. What the reader doesn't know at the time is that both lines are intended to be taken literally as clowns are funny.
If in fact, Pratchett is drawing on Monty Pythons for Bent's walk it is likely that the 'Shed' reference in the same scene has its roots in their "Arthur 2 sheds Jackson" skit. He has clearly picked 'sheds' for a reason and his emphasis on the workers being allowed to keep them suggests as such.
When Moist refers to Flead as a 300 year old letch, Adora replies, "I think you mean lych". Pratchett puns on the words as a lych is an old English word for a corpse. Flead is also referred to as being "dead at the moment". This concept resonates with Douglas Adams' series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where the rock star Hotblack DeSiato takes a year off dead for tax purposes. Pratchett uses this concept in Going Postal as well.
Pratchett plays with numbers throughout his novels. The number 8 being the obvious one (the number that is never spoken). In this novel he uses 14.14, 14 hours and 14 seconds, etc. 14.14 is the square root of 200 rounded to two decimal places. 14 is considered to be a number associated with independence, personal freedom and self-determination in numerology and 200 has associations with duality. Whether Pratchett intended any connection is unknown.
When Aimsbury is making dinner for Moist and Adora he serves her minced collops. While this sounds like it should be a dish made with offal or other 'undesirable' animal parts like the other dishes he has made, in fact 'collops' simply means meat and traditionally refers to bacon. Scottish collops for example use either thin slices or minced meat of either beef, lamb or venison, combined with onion, salt, pepper and suet, then stewed, baked or roasted with optional flavourings according to the meat used. It is traditionally served garnished with thin toast and mashed potato.
Pratchett draws consistent parallels with the emancipation of slaves with his references to "Freehold golems" who buy their freedom and then work to buy the freedom of their fellow golems.
Moist says, "if you don't think of a fifty-foot-high killer golem first, someone else will". This reasoning was the common line in the arms race during the cold war to justify nuclear proliferation and is the standard military line to justify such abhorrent military research as chemical weapons and bacteriological warfare. Toward the end of the novel Pratchett returns to this theme when he talks about the concept of "Pre-emptive defence", another cold war jargon type line used to justify first strike nuclear war.
The scene involving the rebranding of necromancy as Post-Mortem Communications resonates with the Roundworld's various marketing agencies and spin doctors turning politically unacceptable activities into something less offensive sounding even though the activity hasn't changed. Ethnic cleansing instead of genocide is one such euphemism and there are many others.
Sir Andrew Fartswell (farts well) likely takes his name from Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, cheek being another name for buttocks and ague implying fever, both being scattalogical names.
The play "Tis a Pity She's an Instructor in Unarmed Combat" is an obvious reference to the play 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (original spelling: 'Tis Pitty Shee's a Who[o]re), which is a tragedy written by John Ford and first performed between 1629 and 1633. Once again Pratchett deliberately plays with marital and martial as in marital status (a whore) and martial arts.
When Bent is wrestling with his conscience, he refers to the "voice of the mask". This hints at his hidden past as a clown since clowns always hide their true self behind a mask or grease paint. It also resonates with Pratchett's earlier work Maskerade which was a play on The Phantom of the Opera.
The Cantata and Fugue for those who have trouble with the pedals is an obvious reference to the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor written by Johann Sebastian Bach. The word 'cantata' is the past tense of 'sung' in Italian (cantare - to sing) so Pratchett is playing with the Bach reference, ridiculing the idea of a piece of music meant to be sung which could clearly have nothing to do with pedals on an organ.
Professor Flead is described with "little strings of saliva vibrat(ing) in his mouth like the web of a very old spider". This is very reminiscent of the poem by Mary Howitt (1799–1888), published in 1828, The Spider and the Fly, in which the spider leads the fly to her doom with, "'Will you walk into my parlour' said the spider to the fly." The poem, while appearing to be about a spider and a fly is clearly about seduction, an older rake and a young virgin.
The unusual font indicating the archaic language of Formal Golem uses the Enochian alphabet created by the 16th Century mathematician and astronomer John Dee. (Himself a Discworld character in The Science of Discworld II: the Globe, where he hosts visiting Wizards from' Discworld In Elizabethan London, Dee lived at Mortlake, which is also a location in Ankh-Morpork)). It uses letter by letter substitution to create the desired effect. The Formal Golem language is designated as appropriate to a near-contemporary of Umnian's multi-meaninged tongue. The characters for r/m, i/y, c/k, and u/v/w are effectively indistinguishable, (much like English before i/j and u/v became separate letters)and the s and e are quite similar. Translated, Adora Belle says "I can speak formal Golem." In Formal Golem, Flead first says, "You make eternity bearable!" and then asks "Why do you care about golems? They have no passionate parts!"
Flead comments, "I don't know what it is about stepped pyramids that brings out the worst in a god" a reference by Pratchett to the human sacrifices by the Mayans and Aztecs in Roundworld.
The "ancient monsters who can see a second sun getting bigger in the sky" are an obvious reference to the dinosaurs when earth was struck by a comet.
The God of the Month Club is an obvious reference to all the various marketing schemes like the Book of the Month club, etc.
The Goddess Anoia has gone from being a minor goddess in charge of stuck drawers to a major one who might be in line for the position of goddess of lost causes. This is all thanks to Moist in Going Postal. Her temple with its kitchen implements stuck on the wall is very reminiscent of places like Lourdes and St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec where those "cured" have left their crutches and other items they "no longer need" behind.
The scene where Moist and Adora briefly believe Gladys the Golem has killed Mr. Fusspot is based on the "bunny boiler" scene from Fatal Attraction.
"If you can't stand the heat, get off the pot" says a senior clerk. This is a mixed metaphor. The two expressions being combined are "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" and "Shit or get off the pot". This scene is a complex play on the metaphor. Pratchett expands on the original second metaphor when he talks about the Human Resources manager at a rival bank doing a time and motion study on now long people spend in the privy (clearly not shitting and getting off the pot fast enough). Shitting is also called a bowel movement and movement is another word for motion (time and motion).
The "tinkers and fortune tellers" of Roundworld traditionally were often Gypsies and traveled in caravans so the image of accountants doing the same is Pratchett's way of mocking the idea.
Throughout the novel, Moist believes that Mr. Bent's deep dark secret is that he is a vampire, not a clown as is revealed at the end of the book. When he goes to his lodgings he comments that among the "signs" he is a compulsive counter, a reference to the Count on Sesame Street who is a vampire and is used for teaching numbers. It would only be natural that an accountant who likes to count would be a vampire. A great piece of redirection.
"Mr Bent had kept quiet about his past, but that was hardly a pitchforking matter" is a reference to the standard fate of mad scientists like Dr. Frankenstein when the mob attacks them with burning torches and pitchforks.
"Now that's what I call entertainment" is a reference to the 1974 movie, That's Entertainment and all the similar lines it spawned over the years. The movie was not concerned with sado-masochism, however.
Adora says, "Tell me that was just an old rubber bone" when Mr. Fusspot walks by with his rubber penis (dildo). Bone and boner being two slang terms for a penis.
The Ancient and Orthodox Potato Church and its followers and the Plain Potato Church poke fun at the various schisms in Christianity from the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, to the Church of England and the Methodists and other strict Protestant sects, to the Protestants and the fundamentalist Baptists, with a bit of Amish and Shakers thrown into the mix as well. The whole church concept with the potato at its centre pokes fun at the way religions are formed; something misconstrued becoming a symbol. There are strong Life of Brian overtones here in the worship of Brian's sandal in that Monty Python movie.
The four thousand golems which Adora discovers underground and brings to Ankh-Morpork is a clear reference to the terracotta warriors in Xi'an, China; a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
In the line, "Those who desire war, prepare for war' Pratchett pokes fun at the expression, "Si vis pacem, para bellum" ''which is a Latin adage translated as "If you want peace, prepare for war" or often loosely translated as "Those who desire peace prepare for war". It is adapted from a statement found in Book 3 of Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus's tract De Re Militari (4th or 5th century), although the idea which it conveys also appears in earlier works such as Plato's Nomoi (Laws) and the Chinese Shi Ji. The phrase is used to affirm that one of the most effective means of ensuring peace for a people is to always be armed and ready to defend itself. Clearly based on the rest of the scene, Pratchett has little faith in Discworld or Roundworld mankind avoiding war when armed to the teeth.
At the end of the novel, when Mavolio Bent, the head cashier appears at Moist's trial and begins throwing pies around at the various Lavishes, it becomes obvious that his deep dark secret isn't that he is a vampire but that he is a clown and has run away from the circus to join the bank, which is a reversal of the old canard about staid upright figures giving it all up to join the circus. It also resonates with Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelth Night. Both names have obvious connections to the the French world for evil or bad - Mal. Bent is a slang term for someone who has been bought and is crooked. As an interesting parallel, British Prime Minister, John Major came from a family of trapeze artists and he was jokingly referred to as the only person who ran away from the circus to become an accountant. Perhaps Pratchett was modelling his character of Mavolio Bent on this. When he uses the latter to snare the Lavishes, Pratchett is drawing on the silent film tradition used by Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Cops as well as the common clowning practice of using ladders as props in the circus.
The clue to the crossword in the Times is "Shaken players shift the load (nine letters)". The answer is to shake up a nine letter word for players (Orchestra) and make something that shifts a load (Cart horse).
Promotional Items in the UK Hardcover 1st Edition Edit
Some High Street booksellers have additional exclusive promotional material glued under the inside of the dust jacket:
- Borders include an Ankh-Morpork cheque book
- Waterstone's include a few Ankh-Morpork bank notes